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3-Minute Market Insight

EP 541 | AIRED 06/07/2021

AquaBounty’s Genetically-Engineered Atlantic Salmon To Hit Foodservice Operations in the US

June 7th, 2021--- This week we report on AquaBounty's controversial Genetically Modified Atlantic Salmon as it is finally set to hit Foodservice operations in the US after a long and hard battle with regulatory clearances, and consumer pushback - often referring to the product as "Frankenfish".

--- Founded in 1991, AquaBounty is best known for breeding the world's first genetically modified fish by combining a gene from a Wild Pacific Chinook Salmon, and an Ocean Pout, with the genetic structure of an Atlantic Salmon for the purpose of accelerating its growth.

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AquaBounty is finally able to harvest and sell it's genetically engineered AquAdvantage Salmon that is marketed as a nutritious, affordable Atlantic Salmon raised in a safe, secure and sustainable way that is free of antibiotics, microplastics and contaminants.

Since January 2020, USDA labeling law requires the disclosure of genetically-modified ingredients on foods labels and mandatory compliance of this law is to take effect January 2022 - however the rules do not apply to restaurants or food services.

The inaugural harvest and sale of AquAdvantage Salmon is now set for restaurants and "Food away from home" dining services in the Midwest and along the East Coast where labeling as genetically-engineered is not required.

So far, the only publicly known company set to sell this product is Samuels and Son Seafood, a Philadelphia-based seafood distributor.

Although this product is finally making its way to consumers, it has been met with pushback from the industry.

Major players such as Aramark, Compass Group, Sodexo, and many other large US retailers announced concerns surrounding environmental impacts to proper (or improper) labeling of genetically modified or cloned salmon.

Wild Salmon fishermen, to the Aquaculture industry, to resellers also want more clear labeling protocol to ensure that consumers know they are purchasing a genetically-engineered product.

Despite industry pushback, AquaBounty CEO Sylvia Wulf is confident there is still a market for the fish.

Wulf can be quoted saying “Most of the salmon in this country is imported, and during the pandemic, we couldn’t get products into the market,” “So, having a domestic source of supply that isn’t seasonal like wild salmon and that is produced in a highly-controlled, bio-secure environment is increasingly important to consumers.”


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AquaBounty expects production to reach 100 metric tonnes per month and continues expansion plans to more facilities.

The AquAdvantage Salmon has always prided itself as faster-growing being able to reach market size in 16-18 months from egg to harvest.

However competition seems to be catching up as other land-based Farmed Salmon operations such as Atlantic Sapphire (with their Bluehouse Atlantic Salmon), can reach market size in 18-20 months from egg to harvest.

--- Regardless if you purchase Farmed or Wild Salmon, you can already feel that 2021 is going to be an incredible year for Salmon products in retail and as foodservice operations return.

The world-class Alaska Wild Pacific Salmon Fishery is just getting started with first of the season Copper River King Salmon fillets seen as high as $75/lb US at Pike Place Market in Seattle.

Although the Copper River fishery is seeing some poor results early-on in the season, overall we are to see about 71 million more Salmon out of Alaska this year compared to last year with Alaska forecasting for 190 million Salmon for the 2021 season.

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